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Downtown Sprague

Status: Lost

Year Listed: 2014

Location: Sprague, Lincoln County

Originally called Hoodooville, the town of Sprague began as a sheep camp in the 1870s. Officially incorporated in 1883, the town changed its name to Sprague, in honor of Civil War Union General John Wilson Sprague, an executive with Northern Pacific Railroad which had a presence in town. In 1895, a fire virtually erased downtown, prompting the construction of modern fireproof masonry buildings following the blaze. Yet, even fireproof buildings need upkeep, and decades of deferred maintenance have taken a toll. On September 6, 2013, the easternmost building on the main block of downtown collapsed, forcing city officials to close down the street and condemn the entire block of adjacent structures.

Via the Most Endangered list, the Washington Trust was invited to assist. The 2014 Most Endangered listing raised awareness and spurred assistance in the form of a consultant donating time to assess the viability of rehabilitating an historic hotel building. The amount of money needed to bring the building back was, however, staggering. Local recognition that rehabilitation of the remaining buildings offered significant economic opportunity remained high. However, no large investment was secured and the hotel was unfortunately demolished, leaving just a few remaining historic buildings downtown.

Read more from our “40 for 40” featured story from the Washington Trust’s 40th anniversary in 2016.